How Can You Manage Symptoms of Depression Over the Course of a Lifetime?
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Depression is a mental health disorder that affects an estimated seven percent of Americans. The causes of depression can vary from person to person. For some, depression is a response to a significant life change, such as job loss, grief from losing a loved one, or a significant medical diagnosis.

Depression can also be a co-occurring symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after experiencing trauma. For others, there is no specific “reason” but a chemical imbalance in the brain that affects serotonin levels. The reason for this chemical imbalance could be due to genetics. While there is no cure for depression, there are a variety of ways it can be managed.

Recognizing Depression Symptoms

Depression can affect people in different ways, but the some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, worthlessness, or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating at work or school
  • Chronic fatigue, even after a full night’s sleep
  • Recurring thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Depression Treatment Options: Therapy and Medication

Therapy can involve talking to a licensed professional about your feelings or problems and working together to develop skills for inventing solutions. Depression therapy can take many different forms, involving a range of techniques. It’s essential to make an appointment with your doctor to discuss the symptoms you’ve been having. Based on the severity of those symptoms, your doctor may recommend one or multiple forms of therapy.

Psychotherapy for Depression Management

Psychotherapy for depression is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Your depression symptoms may benefit from any of the following techniques or a combination of the following techniques:

  • Behavioral activation therapy: This form of therapy encourages seeking out experiences or activities that you enjoy to provide happiness and personal fulfillment.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT helps you identify and redirect negative thought patterns in response to depressive “triggers” or other difficult circumstances.
  • Interpersonal therapy: This type of therapy focuses on identifying problems in your personal relationships, such as family or romantic partnerships, and how they influence your depressive thoughts or feelings.
  • Problem-solving therapy: A form of CBT, this therapy focuses on specific skills needed to solve immediate problems that directly impact your depression.

Antidepressants for Depression Management

It’s common for many people to benefit from a combination of therapy sessions and antidepressants, which change your brain chemistry to help improve your moods. There are many different types of antidepressants, including:

  • SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors): These medications help boost your supply of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects your moods, sleep, and appetite.
  • SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors): These medications help ease depression symptoms by targeting neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers, that “talk” to your brain cells. Altering your brain chemistry and boosting nerve cell communication help boost your mood.

Many people benefit from including antidepressants in their daily routine. However, different prescriptions affect people differently. An antidepressant that works well for one person may have too many adverse side effects for another. You may need to try a few before finding the right one under your doctor’s guidance. Sometimes, the full effects of an antidepressant may not be felt for a few weeks.

Lifestyle Changes for Managing Depression

Depression symptoms are best managed with a combination of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. For those who experience adverse reactions to antidepressants, lifestyle changes may be the most effective tool for combatting the effects of this mental health disorder.

Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet

Many health complications, including mental health disorders like depression, can be managed by changing your diet. The easiest way to do this is to limit junk foods and beverages. The refined sugars and saturated fats in sweets like candy, desserts, or sodas can negatively impact how you feel. A healthy, balanced diet includes a combination of fatty acids, omega-3s, amino acids, and complex carbohydrates. You can find these in meat and dairy products, fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Get Regular Exercise

Exercise is for more than weight loss; it benefits your overall physical health, especially your mood. That’s because your body produces natural antidepressants called endorphins. These endorphins are released during physical activity and have other benefits, such as stress reduction and better sleep. It is recommended to exercise for about 30 minutes each day to alleviate depression symptoms.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Depression can negatively affect your sleep habits. Maybe your mind has difficulty calming down, or you toss and turn at night. Forming a nighttime calming routine can help improve your sleep. Try taking a warm bath before bed, reading a relaxing book, having a cup of herbal tea, and turning off your phone at least an hour before bedtime.

Quit Smoking

Cigarettes have negative consequences on your health, including your overall mood. You can notice an improvement in your depression symptoms by reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke, if not quitting entirely. Talk to your doctor about different quitting techniques to find one that works for you.

Other Techniques for Depression Management

Taking some time out of your day to do something you enjoy can help improve your mood by giving you something to look forward to. Whatever it is you enjoy – watching a movie, reading a book, engaging in a hobby, listening to uplifting music, having a quality meal – make sure to make room for it. You may find that these small pleasures can help you carve out a bit of happiness that helps to keep you going.

While there is no “cure” for depression, there are plenty of ways it can be managed. Life does not have to feel bleak and hopeless. The treatments that worked for a while may need to be tweaked as time goes on and life circumstances change. This is completely normal. With the right combination of therapies, medication, treatment programs, or lifestyle changes, you can start to enjoy life again and feel more like yourself. Crownview Co-Occurring Institute has compassionate, experienced staff who are ready to listen whenever you decide to reach out. We don’t operate by a “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to mental health treatment. Instead, we work with you to formulate a treatment plan that addresses your needs as an individual. To learn more about our treatment program and how we can help you, call us today at (760) 477-4754